A powerful earthquake in Morocco has killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds more, the country's deadliest tremor in more than six decades, toppling houses in remote mountain villages where rescuers dug through rubble for survivors.
The Moroccan government says death toll in earthquake near Marrakech has reached 1,037, with more than 1,200 injured.
The magnitude 7.2 quake struck in Morocco's High Atlas mountains late on Friday night. Most of the fatalities are in mountainous areas outside Marrakech, the nearest city to the epicentre, its updated toll showed.
Residents of Marrakech, the nearest big city to the epicentre, said some buildings had collapsed in the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and local television showed pictures of a fallen mosque minaret with rubble lying on smashed cars.
The Interior Ministry, in its televised statement on the death toll, urged calm and said the quake had hit the provinces of Al Haouz, Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Azilal, Chichaoua and Taroudant.
Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain village of Asni near the epicentre, said most houses there were damaged. "Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village," he said.
Further west, near Taroudant, teacher Hamid Afkar said he had fled his home and there had been aftershocks following the initial quake.
"The earth shook for about 20 seconds. Doors opened and shut by themselves as I rushed downstairs from the second floor," he said.
Morocco's geophysical centre said the quake struck in the Ighil area of the High Atlas with a magnitude of 7.2. The US Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 6.8 and said it was at a relatively shallow depth of 18.5km.
Ighil, a mountainous area with small farming villages, is about 70km southwest of Marrakech. The quake struck just after 11pm (3am UAE time).
The earthquake is Morocco's deadliest since a 2004 tremor near Al Hoceima in the northern Rif mountains which killed over 600 people.
World leaders react
Leaders worldwide have expressed their condolences and offered to help in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Morocco, which claimed the lives of at least 600 people. The 6.8-magnitude quake struck a mountainous area 72 kilometres southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh at 11:11 pm Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.
European leaders offered condolences, as did Russian President Vladimir Putin and Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, along with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. French President Emmanuel Macron said he was “devastated" by the earthquake in Morocco. “We are all devastated after the terrible earthquake in Morocco," Macron said on X, formerly known as Twitter, while onboard a flight to the G20 summit in India. “France stands ready to help with first aid."
Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel which established diplomatic ties with Morocco in 2020, ordered “any necessary assistance." Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered solidarity and support to the people of Morocco in the wake of this terrible earthquake. “Spain is with the victims of this tragedy and its families," he wrote on X.